DURHAM’S miserable season continued yesterday with the news Ben Stokes needs an operation – on a different injury to the one keeping him out of the current match with Somerset.
No play was possible on day two of the County Championship clash as puddles on the outfield steadfastly refuse to drain with the water table so high.
The day began with the news Mitchell Johnson cannot take his place as one of two overseas players in this summer’s Twenty20 Cup. Later it emerged Stokes will have knee surgery days after the injections which were thought to have cured his back injury.
“Stokes is having to have an operation next week under the umbrella of the ECB,” coach Geoff Cook said of the all-rounder who is part of England’s Performance Squad.
“He’s got a tear in the cartilage in his knees. He’s probably going to miss two or three weeks. One day he turned up and his knee had swelled up. The ECB looked at the scan and decided there was quite a big tear in the cartilage.” Stokes has been unable to bowl since Durham’s draw at Middlesex three weeks ago, and was forced to miss England Lions’ game against West Indies this week for anti-inflammatory injections.
“He had an injection in his back on Wednesday which if he didn’t have a bad knee would have allowed him to play as a bowler on Sunday,” Cook explained.
“With some building up he certainly should be okay to crack on with his bowling (once the knee problem is cured).”
It has been a depressing few days for the Riversiders, who went bottom of the Championship’s First Division on Saturday.
Earlier this week Dale Benkenstein dislocated his shoulder. Durham’s 40-over campaign starts on Sunday, again at home to Somerset, and he is their limited-overs captain.
“Benkenstein is going to see a specialist on Monday or Tuesday to determine the exact problem but he’s still quite sore,” Cook explained.
“We haven’t made a decision on the one-day captaincy just yet. Dale being Dale he’s still talking about having an outside chance of playing.”
Assuming common sense takes hold and Benkenstein, who is also nursing a foot injury, does not play, former England limited-overs captain Paul Collingwood and four-day skipper Phil Mustard will be contenders to lead the side.
Durham were caught cold by yesterday’s naming of Johnson in Australia’s squad to play six one-day internationals in England and Ireland this summer.
Johnson has had a foot injury since November, and the selectors want him to get some match practice ahead of this autumn’s Twenty20 World Championship.
The first game of Australia’s tour is on June 21, six days after Durham’s Twenty20 opener.
“When he committed to us he felt he should be able to fulfil that commitment but there’s obviously been a bit of a volte-face by the Australian people,” said Cook.
“We had two (overseas) people signed up so all enquiries had finished. We’ll have to get quickly onto it.
“The agent of Johnson rang through with a few possibilities. We’re still looking to sign somebody as long as they’re of the right quality.
“With various tours around the world and half-tours coming to England it’s very difficult to nail somebody down.
“It may be people who are only available for half the tournament become the more attractive option now.
“Whether it’s a batsman or bowler depends on the quality and availability.”
Johnson was due to play for Mumbai Indians in this season’s Indian Premier League, but last week they cancelled his contract, citing his injury.
South African Herschelle Gibbs was due to follow Johnson, but has not featured for Mumbai due to a broken finger, although he is back in training.
Cook said: “He’s played a lot this winter and I’m sure he’ll be ready. He’s coming over probably 10 days before the tournament starts.”